I remember devouring the Artemis Fowl books when I was in middle school for the clever and cold title hero who was so unlike the typical middle-grade protagonists. Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl is “a millionaire, a genius, and a criminal mastermind.” I appreciated the high-stakes adventure and the combination of tech and magic in these fantasy thrillers. With the recent release of the movie adaptation in 2020, new generations of young readers will be looking for what to read next. Here is a list of 10 books like Artemis Fowl.
1. The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
Artemis Fowl gave readers one kid genius, but The Mysterious Benedict Society gives us four. Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance are gifted children who respond to an advertisement in the paper that requires them to pass a series of unique, mysterious tests of ability. They’re chosen for a secret mission by a man named Mr. Benedict who believes their gifts make them well-suited to go undercover as students at The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. Together, they make a great team. This is a unique tale about friendship, love, and good versus evil. Arguably the best part is that the book is filled with riddles, wordplay, and clever mind games for readers to solve alongside the characters.
2. Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull
With a cast of magical creatures like the Artemis Fowl books, Fablehaven is an entertaining read about a relatable sibling pair—Kendra, who is often too cautious, and Seth, who can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble. Kendra and Seth dread a boring summer with grandparents they hardly know. Then they discover their grandfather is the caretaker of a sanctuary for mystical creatures filled with trolls, imps, fairies, and satyrs practically living in their backyard. When Seth breaks his grandfather’s rules and accidentally unleashes forces of evil, he and Kendra must brave the dangerous woods to set things right. Brandon Mull brings a fantastical world to life in Fablehaven.
3. Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke
Cornelia Funke invites readers to escape into a fictional realm within the fictional realm of her story. Our heroine, Meggie, discovers that her father has the unique ability to “read” characters out of books and into their world. But his gift comes with a price. Little does Meggie know, her father Mo has a longstanding feud with a storybook villain named Dustfinger who is searching for a special book called Inkheart. If Meggie wants to return things to the way they were, she must outwit the cunning villains to protect the book and save her father. With the same magical pull as Artemis Fowl, Funke’s Inkheart is a celebration of all things literary.
4. The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
In The Westing Game, 16 strangers are invited to move into Sunset Towers to compete for the inheritance of reclusive millionaire Sam Westing. Upon his death, Westing has one final game to play, and his last will & testament spells out the baffling instructions and clues for the unsuspecting heirs. Whoever solves his mystery will win the Westing fortune. Ellen Raskin gives us a cast of diverse, quirky characters of all ages, origins, and backgrounds. While The Westing Game may not be quite as action-packed as Artemis Fowl, it’s a fabulously clever novel that will have readers guessing till the end. Not to mention, the book features a teen sleuth named Turtle who has a similar disposition and wit to boy genius Artemis Fowl.
5. The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott
Michael Scott gives us magic, mystery, and mythology in this exciting story about twins Sophie and Josh Newman. The two get caught up in a whirlwind of adventure when Sophie learns her boss, bookshop owner Nick Fleming, is actually the 700-year-old immortal alchemyst Nicholas Flamel. When his bookshop is attacked, Sophie and Josh agree to help rescue Flamel’s wife and recover a powerful book called the Codex. They have a lot to learn about the mythical beings pulling the strings, and about an ancient prophecy in which they might have a role to play.
6. The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Readers who loved Artemis Fowl’s caustic wit will enjoy the wicked sense of humor and clever stunts of our unlikely hero Callum “Call” Hunt. Call doesn’t want to go to magic school. He purposely tries to fail his entrance exam, but he “fails at failing” and finds himself admitted to the prestigious Magisterium school. In fact, he’s chosen to train as an apprentice to Master Rufus, the most powerful mage at the Magisterium. Call is a bit of a troublemaker and quickly offends some of the more eager students at the school, but he builds a strong friendship with fellow apprentices Aaron and Tamara. The Iron Trial is a fast-moving, entertaining story that will completely flip your expectations of the genre.
7. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief is a modern twist on Greek mythology. Percy Jackson thinks he’s a regular teenager until he learns he’s a “demigod.” His mom is human, but his dad is one of the immortal Greek gods. Percy is taken to Camp Half-Blood to train alongside other demigods, but when his mother is kidnapped and he’s blamed for something he didn’t do, he and his friends escape the camp to rescue his mom and clear his name. Percy may not be a genius like Artemis Fowl, but he’s got Annabeth on his side—daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom. Percy, Annabeth, and their guardian Grover must pull off a high-stakes rescue mission, or face the wrath of the gods (literally).
8. The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy
Maile Meloy brings history to life by weaving magical “science” into a story about two friends navigating the time of the Cold War. It’s 1952 and Janie Scott has just moved to London with her family where she befriends Benjamin Burrows, the son of a mysterious apothecary. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin find themselves up against ruthless Russian spies and nuclear weapons. Together, the friends must unravel the secrets of the apothecary’s book as it may be their only hope for rescuing Benjamin’s father. The Apothecary is a well-paced adventure with the elements of espionage readers enjoyed in Artemis Fowl.
9. The Anybodies, by N.E. Bode
The Anybodies is a quirky, imaginative tale about family, self-discovery, and acceptance. When Fern learns she was swapped at birth, she’s whisked away from her dull life with the Drudgers to spend the summer getting to know her real father, the Bone. He is an “Anybody,” (but not a very good one!) with the ability to shapeshift into anything or anyone. He needs Fern’s help to find a special book called The Art of Being Anybody, which he believes is hidden in Fern’s grandmother’s house. But a sinister man called The Miser is after it, too, and they must keep the book out of his hands. For the first time, Fern feels that she’s found her place, not only as she discovers what it means to be an Anybody, but also as she grows closer to her true family.
10. Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins
Fans of Suzanne Collins’ popular YA trilogy The Hunger Games may not know that she wrote a fantastic middle-grade series called Gregor the Overlander. The books are about a shy, quiet boy named Gregor who follows his baby sister through a grate into the Underland—a dark, sprawling kingdom beneath New York City where giant bats, rats, and cockroaches coexist with humans. The people of the Underland are convinced that Gregor is the hero foretold in a bizarre prophecy. All he wants is to return home with his sister, Boots, but then he learns that the Underland might hold the secret to his father’s mysterious disappearance. Like Artemis Fowl, Gregor will do anything to rescue his father and find his way home.